Current Updates

Deep roots

"Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7)

For our 8.30am devotional this morning, I shared this scripture, as well as a similar one from Ephesians 3:17, prompted by what happened to one of the trees at The Billabong yesterday - see below. The shallow roots, in very sandy soil, just came right out.

It was a great reminder for me that it's so important to be well grounded and rooted in God's love!

Gathering together for Celebrations (from May 24th)

Hi church family,

This Sunday we have the opportunity to gather in various settings for our Celebration. While we won’t yet be able to fellowship as one whole church family in a single space, we can be grateful that groups of up to 20 people can now gather.

First and foremost, we want to encourage you to continue with ‘CovidSafe’ practices, including 1.5m distance between persons, 4sqm per person in any given gathering space and staying home if you feel unwell. We are now implementing a safety plan at our community center as tenants and small church gatherings resume. Let’s stay safe!

Our Celebration at 10am will be around 45 minutes this week, streamed live to various gathered groups and homes (still at thebillabong.online.church or our website), and followed by discussion and fellowship in these groups. Even if you’re not able to gather with others in person for the live stream, we’d love you to connect via zoom after the sermon for fellowship, discussion and prayer with other Billabongers.

The options for gathering are:

1. Life Groups:

Some Life groups will be gathered in homes or rooms at The Billabong community centre. (Your leaders will inform you of details if this applies to your group.)

2. Zoom:

If you don’t have a group to gather with physically this Sunday, you can join a group via ZOOM at 10.45am after watching the livestream at home.

A) To join those in the main room at The Billabong: Meeting ID: 453 545 248 Password: 54321 or click https://us02web.zoom.us/j/453545248?pwd=bSICRDLTXDM

B) To join with Yoy and Anita in the cafe at The Billabong: Meeting ID: 858 466 280 Password: 54321 or click https://zoom.us/j/858466280?pwd=U0xpYXlFekp1cWxWaEk0cGtZc3c5dz09

C) A third option to be confirmed on the day.

3. At the Community Centre (by request only):

For those not able to use zoom, limited space is available to join a group at The Billabong Community Center. Please contact me via email or the church mobile (0491 611 009) if you wish to attend in person.

“So, when will we ALL be able to gather at The Billabong again?”

I hear you! Although worshipping in your PJs at home is convenient, it’s encouraging to know that you’re all so keen to get back together! There's nothing like face to face. We are hopeful that we’ll have ways to gather in larger groups from mid June, and will update you on this in the coming weeks. Aaron and the Uniting Church head office have been working hard on understanding what is possible and wise for us in the coming months, and our team are seeking God's wisdom on this. In the meantime, let’s use the current situation as an opportunity to grow deeper relationships with one another in smaller settings. We can be the church in a very real way, right now!

Grace and peace friends, we'll see you Sunday.

Luke


Previous Covid-19 Updates:


Celebrating Resurrection Life after Easter

Hi church family,

Last weekend was an Easter we'll never forget. While churches around the world were closed, the Church was very much alive as it met online in creative ways. Thank you for joining our Good Friday, Sunday Dawn and 10am services. And thank you to everyone who put in extra effort to make these happen. At least 250 people joined our 10am Sunday Celebration, and we pray that those who heard the gospel for the first time continue to draw closer to the God who loves them unconditionally.

After having to quickly learn what's required to run our Sunday Celebrations online, these will now be continuing weekly at 10am. However our team will now be turning more attention to other important ways we can help each other grow in faith during the season ahead. If you, your family or life group have any specific needs or things you would find helpful to navigate the road ahead, please let us know!

But first, we have a special Celebration this Sunday as Luke and Jayden Lacey are getting baptised! This will, of course, be quite different to usual, but we still have the opportunity to "gather" around them as their church family as they publicly profess their faith in Jesus. Here's the details:

Our Sunday Celebration will take place as usual online at 10am (thebillabong.online.church) and then after the sermon, we'll take a 5 minute break before the baptisms. You can either:

- stay online at thebillabong.online.church and the page will refresh ready for you to watch the baptisms live

- join on ZOOM so you can watch AND cheer them on via the video call.

Zoom details (for ALL our church zoom events) are:

Click this link: https://zoom.us/j/453545248?pwd=UDdydnZYcndYQ3g0OWhzMmNMcHkvQT09

OR in your Zoom app enter:

Meeting ID: 453 545 248 and password: 54321

OR to phone in dial 08 6119 3900 and enter Meeting ID: 453 545 248 and password: 54321

If you know someone who can not access our Celebrations online, we will now be running the service simultaneously on zoom at the details above, so they can phone in and listen to the audio.

Finally, if you have trouble with thebillabong.online.church, the old site (thebillabong.churchonline.org) will still be available, but I encourage you to try updating your internet browser or using another browser like Chrome, as it should only be a small number of older browsers or devices that aren't compatible with the new site.

See you Sunday as we celebrate resurrection life!

Luke


Easter Weekend

Hi church family,

Tomorrow morning is an Easter Sunday I’m sure we’ll never forget. While we can’t gather in person, we still have two opportunities to gather online - our 6.30am Dawn Service and 10am Easter Celebration.

6.30am Dawn Service - join via Zoom OR church online website

We’d love you to join us nice and early to see the sunrise together and connect via Zoom (video/phone conference call).

As is our tradition, we join the service in silence, and only speak once we declare “He is Risen”! (So I’ll have you all on mute as you call in!)

When you join, take your device outside if you can so we can see the sunrise, sing and pray together.

How to join (VIA ZOOM)

Click this link: https://zoom.us/j/453545248?pwd=UDdydnZYcndYQ3g0OWhzMmNMcHkvQT09

OR in your Zoom app enter:

Meeting ID: 453 545 248 and password: 54321

OR to phone in dial 08 6119 3900 and enter Meeting ID: 453 545 248 and password: 54321

OR to join via our church online website, just go to thebillabong.online.church (but note that we won’t be able to see your beautiful face this way!)

10am Easter Sunday Celebration

Let’s come together to celebrate the resurrection and be reminded of the amazing good news that Jesus is alive and we have new life in him!

Is there someone you could invite to join us? Even if they may never come to a normal Sunday gathering, they may be willing to visit us online tomorrow. This is a time for us to share the hope we have in Jesus!

To join, head to thebillabong.online.church for a 10am start

Note: if you have trouble getting this site to work, it may be that your browser needs updating, or try a different browser like Chrome. Otherwise, head to thebillabong.churchonline.org.

See you tomorrow, family!


Our Easter services and 100 hours of prayer in Holy Week

(email to congregation 3rd April 2020)

Hi church family,

I hope you are keeping well despite everything that's happening around us. It has been great to chat to some of you on the phone this week just hearing how you’re going. Please do keep in touch, especially if there is any way you need support at this time.

Last Sunday we ran our Sunday Celebration online for the second week, with well over 100 people in attendance. If you haven’t given it a try yet, we’d love to see you there this Sunday morning at 10am - all you need is a device connected to the internet. Head to thebillabong.churchonline.org any time from 9.30 for a 10am start.

This Sunday John Whaley will be leading us in Communion. If you'd like to participate, please ensure you have some bread and grape/berry juice (or red wine) on hand. There is no pressure to participate, but we want to ensure we have this opportunity to "break bread together" despite being physically separated.

I wanted to take a moment to let you know what we are planning for Holy Week and Easter. As usual, we will have three services over the Easter weekend. And I truly believe that these times of worship together will be extra special this year. Let me share what we’ll be doing:


Good Friday (10am) - The Passion in the Psalms

thebillabong.churchonline.org

RSVP on Facebook

Our team are putting together a unique reflective service with musicians and artists from our congregation. We’ll be journeying through a number of the Psalms alongside Jesus’ final hours before the cross. The Psalms are prayers and songs which give expression to the pain and grief Jesus experienced, as well as the comfort and hope he clung to the whole time. I’m confident you’re going to be really blessed by this service. And... keep an eye on your letterbox next Wednesday or Thursday for something we're sending out that related to this special reflective service.


Easter Sunday Dawn Service (6.30am)

Zoom ID 453 545 248 (zoom.us/j/453545248)

OR thebillabong.churchonline.org

We're planning something more interactive for our Dawn Service, so invite you to join in via zoom (video or phone call). Take your phone or laptop outside as we watch the sunrise together, we’ll sing and celebrate that Christ is Risen!

In the week leading up, I’d love you to take a moment to ask God to place a bible verse on your heart - something to encourage and uplift the congregation. At our dawn service, we’re going to take time to share these verses, allowing the Lord to speak encouragement and comfort to us through his word (and each other!

We’d love you to link in via Zoom but this service will also be run through the church online platform for those who struggle to connect via zoom. Please get in touch if you need assistance with this - it’s best to get it set up before the day!

Easter Sunday Celebration (10am)

thebillabong.churchonline.org

RSVP on Facebook

Our team are putting together a special Celebration on Easter Sunday morning including a ‘big (couch) band’! We’ll have more details on this next week.


Holy Week - 100 hours of Prayer

Sign up here

Last but not least, I want to invite you to participate in a week of prayer from this Sunday until Easter Saturday (Holy Week). Starting from after our Celebration this Sunday, we’ll be covering the whole week (daylight hours / 6am-9pm) in one hour prayer slots - 100 hours in total.

Would you consider taking an hour each day, or every other day?

Your 1 hour pray slot will be a time to;

- Be with God and be still in his presence

- Pray for our church, local community and wider world

- Pray for our Easter services and those who will come that don’t yet know Jesus

- Pray specifically for the person praying next on the roster (we'll let you know who that is)

- Ask God for a scripture/bible verse to encourage the congregation with

(we'll ask you to send this through to the church mobile 0491 611 009 and share it at our Dawn service, if you're willing)

You can sign up to as many 1 hour slots as you wish here:

https://www.24-7prayer.com/signup/8ce549


Again, please do stay in touch if there is anything you need at this time. I look forward to seeing you all (online) this Sunday!

Grace and Peace

Luke

Our worshipping life in the season ahead (sent 25th March)

Hi church family,

It's hard to know how to begin an email update like this. Changes are happening around us at a rapid pace. Many of you are feeling the acute effects of this pandemic at an emotional, physical and/or financial level. My heart breaks for those of you who have lost your jobs or are worried about the practical needs of your extended family members in the coming days and weeks.

As I write this email, the phrase "we're in this together" is in the forefront of my mind. All of humanity is in this together, but so is the body of Christ. Jesus has bound us together as one body where no one part is more important than another (Ephesians 4). For me, this is a comfort, an encouragement, and a challenge - to lay down all that is "mine" to serve the body. And as we do this, we can then reach out to a hurting world that Christ died for.

I really believe that this Sunday will be a special and significant time of worship together as we pray, worship and connect with each other at our Sunday Celebration online. Even with the government restrictions getting stricter each day, our team has a concrete plan to utilise technology to provide a reliable and engaging Sunday Celebration, 10am at thebillabong.churchonline.org.

But more importantly, I'd like to share with you, on behalf of our ministry leadership group, what we feel the Lord is saying at this time, and what our plans are for ministry as The Billabong moving forward.


Hearing God's whispers among the chaos

As a team, we started our meeting yesterday sharing scriptures, songs and images God has been placing on our heart. A few examples are:

Psalms 20, 91, 27:1-7, 2 Timothy 1:7, Isaiah 26:3-4 and 43:19, John 10:1-18, and the songs "God will make a way" by Don Moen and "Breakthrough" by Red Rocks Worship.

One person on our team shared a picture of The Billabong being a collection of water where people were coming to drink, but the water was coming not from a place, but from within us - overflowing as we each 'tap into it' individually.

As you find moments of stillness with God, we would love you to share any scriptures, songs, encouraging words or pictures God gives you (via. email or SMS to the church mobile: 0491 611 009)


Caring for one another

Our team are committed to giving special attention in the coming season to providing care and support to everyone who belongs to The Billabong family. We, along with other leaders and carers in our congregation, will do our very best to touch base with you via phone as often as possible - to pray with you and see if there is anything you need.

We will also provide assistance where needed for those struggling to connect with others using technology. We encourage you to join the private facebook group (click here) as this is our primary place of connecting as one large church family. Please reach out if you need help in this area.


Peace in the storm

We will also be using technology to provide reflections, prayers and encouragement as often as possible. To begin with, we will send daily midday text messages with a scripture/prayer we feel God wants us all to receive. Once things settle down a little, we hope to provide short devotionals as well. Again, please share with us anything God impresses upon your heart so we can share these with the whole church family.


Reaching our wider community

Our wider community is in great need right now. This is an opportunity to live out our vision to see communities transformed by the love of Christ. At present, we simply encourage you to contact us via email or the church mobile if you have supplies that people might need, or simple want to avail yourself to help. We will then be working to partner with other community organisations to help where we can, when we can.

If you know of someone in immediate need, please give us a call and we'll do what we can.


Gathering as one church family on Sundays

Some of you may be wondering "how is that even possible?" First, let me share with you some of the testimonies we received during or following our first Sunday Celebration online last Sunday:

"We really enjoyed the service last Sunday"

"Given that I'm not able to leave my house at present for medical reasons, I love that this allows me to be with you all"

"I'm so moved, almost in tears"

Also, one of our cleaners (whose Spanish speaking church actually used to meet in the old Billabong facility) told me he tuned in on Sunday. His phone automatically translates from English to Spanish for him, so he watched the whole service with live translation!

Sunday Celebrations online will clearly not be the same as physical gatherings, but I encourage you to have a go. You will see the worship, prayer leader and preacher via a video, and can 'type-chat' with everyone who is logged on via the 'chat' window. This Sunday, our team will also be logged on and ready to accept "Live Prayer" requests (this allows anyone to pray or talk privately with one of our team by private messaging, or a phone call if requested).

We've created a short guide called "How to join Sunday Celebrations Online" (click here). Please let us know if you have any questions or need someone to help set you up.

This Sunday, I want to share with you a message on how we, the church, can respond in a time of crisis like this. We're putting the rest of our "Life and Faith" series on hold for now so we can think prayerfully about the time, and opportunity, we are currently in.

Finally, please do stay safe, following the advice provided by the government, and reach out if you or someone close to you is in need in any way. Myself and our leadership team also value your prayers at this time. We trust that this is all in God's hands.

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Grace and Peace

Luke and The Billabong Leadership Team


Church office mobile: 0491 611 009

Sunday Celebrations Online: thebillabong.churchonline.org



Email to The Billabong family Monday 23rd March - A Brief Update

Hi church family,

Firstly, I'm so glad that many of you were able to join together for our first church online yesterday. Despite the rush to pull things together at the end of last week, we had 25 people spread across 4 multipurpose rooms at the community centre and 70-80 people participating online. While it's certainly not the same as meeting together in person, we had some great feedback about the experience. We'll be smoothing out some of the small technical glitches this week and providing a very clear "guide for how to join church online" soon.

We have been in close communication with the relevant bodies this morning regarding the use of our community centre in the coming weeks. At this point in time our community centre will be closed to the public. We are seeking clarification on the use of our facility for some tenants, and will provide an update tomorrow after receiving further advice from the Uniting Church head office.

Our ministry leaders are meeting tomorrow to discuss ways we can care for one another, grow in faith and reach out to our community during this time. Sunday Celebrations will be online only for the foreseeable future and we will provide an update soon on what this will look like. Thank you for your patience as we work on this in the next 24 hours or so.

This is a completely unprecedented time for us, but this following verse has been strongly on my mind in recent days:

For the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

May we be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the church, love others generously and think and act soundly and wisely in the season ahead.

As the office may be unattended at times, please contact us on the church mobile if there is anything you need: 0491 611 009

Grace and Peace

Luke